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First-Generation Grace College Student Honored for ‘Realizing the Dream’

Bianca Jimenez-Ortiz, a Grace College sophomore from Elkhart, Indiana, was recently one of 30 Hoosier students to receive the “Realizing the Dream” scholarship from Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI). Each of the honorees is a sophomore student who has “realized the dream” to be the first in his or her family to attend college.

The event is made possible by the support of Lilly Endowment, Inc. Each honoree received a $4,000 scholarship to help with college costs.

One out of every three students on ICI campuses is first-generation. Generous financial aid provided by ICI institutions, combined with state and federal grants, makes a private college education a possibility for all Hoosier students, including Jimenez-Ortiz.

Jimenez-Ortiz was inspired to pursue higher education as a way to honor the sacrifices her parents made when they immigrated to the U.S.

“It was always instilled in me that I needed to make the most of the opportunities I had, because my parents didn’t have those same opportunities,” said Jimenez-Ortiz.

At the start of her college search, Jimenez-Ortiz was set on attending a large, out-of-state college, but she decided to also tour some smaller colleges close to home. Upon visiting Grace College, she discovered that it had the exact major and minor she wanted to pursue.

“I saw this as a sign that Grace College was where I was meant to be,” said Jimenez-Ortiz. “I felt so seen throughout my visit, and Grace made me feel at home. I didn’t feel that at any other college visit.”

Jimenez-Ortiz is majoring in political science and minoring in pre-law and behavioral science. She plans on attending law school after she graduates, with the hopes of becoming an attorney and opening her own law firm.

As a sophomore, Jimenez-Ortiz is heavily involved on campus through various clubs and leadership roles. She participates in Esperanza Latina to build relationships with like-minded students, and she is also a member of the award-winning Grace College Mediation Team. Jimenez-Ortiz even had the opportunity to compete with the team last year in Bologna, Italy.

In addition, Jimenez-Ortiz served as the vice president of student senate, and this year, she leads the first-generation student organization.

“Being a first-generation student myself, I wanted to give back and let others know that they are not alone in their first-generation student experience,” said Jimenez-Ortiz.

When she found out she had been awarded the Realizing the Dream Scholarship, Jimenez-Ortiz was both shocked and overjoyed. She remembers feeling blessed that all the hard work that went into her various extracurricular positions had paid off.

“Every day I am here at Grace College it becomes clearer that this is exactly where I am meant to be,” said Jimenez-Ortiz. “This institution has challenged me and made me grow as a person and as a Christ-follower.”

Grace College provides significant financial aid for students. In fact, nearly 25% of its incoming students are attending Grace tuition-free through a combination of federal, state and institutional aid.

For more information about Grace College, including financial aid and scholarship information, visit or call (866) 974-7223.

Tagged With: About Grace College, School of Behavioral Science, Student Stories

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